Alexa Vasquez in Hanoi
I am a Girl Gone International because...
I have always had the curiosity to see what is out there, outside of what I knew. I have been living abroad for 3 years now in three different countries and have been traveling solo for much longer. As a female traveler, its nice to meet fellow like-minded women, who just understand.
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
At the time of writing I live in Hanoi, Vietnam. Why? I somehow ended up here after a recommendation whilst backpacking and decided to take the plunge and try it out. But I am moving on soon....
What makes GGI so special?
I love the diversity in this group, from nationalities, to jobs, and interests. It makes every meet up so much fun and so interesting.
Tell us a story about some of the friends you have made through Girl Gone International!
All I wanted was to borrow a girl's Dirndl! I went in to try it on, and that turned into a 3 hour conversation with a girl who is now a very close friend of mine. I had just arrived in Hamburg and was determined to make it to Oktoberfest. Too scared to post, a girl posted on GGI asking if anyone had a dirndl they could borrow. A girl responded yes, so I private messaged her! :) Ended up at her house to try it on, to then be playing with her two baby girls that I absolutely love and adore now and her wanting to introduce me to some girls, one of them being Bruna (CM of Hamburg).
Went to my first GGI event, and met a fellow GGI and pearl-wearing girl name Lynn... and the rest is history! A year later, Bruna, Lynn and I found ourselves vacationing it up, in Thailand and Cambodia together. If it wasn't for GGI, I wouldn't have some of my very closest (and craziest) friends, like Bruna and Lynn, amongst others!
How has GGI affected or impacted your life or the lives of others?
GGI has affected my life drastically by giving me some of my closest friends that I consider family. Having a community of girls to fall back on is huge. And its even bigger when that community is Global! I love going to a city where there is a GGI group and attending their events.
I got so much love and support when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia and made it to an event in Singapore. Some of the ladies I met that night were some of the kindest people I've met.
What it is like living in your city as a GGI (ups and downs)?
Hanoi, like many cities, is a very transient city. So a lot of the times, you find this really great group of friends, but next thing you know, they are all leaving. And because the expat world is so small here, its hard to penetrate yourself into friend groups. So it can be really hard and lonely for a couple months. But thats where GGI comes in and helps (at least I hope).
Knowing what you know now, about this lifestyle, about the world and yourself. What would you go back and tell your younger self?
Not to be so worried as I was in the beginning. Everything will get figured out. You will meet people. You will make friends. Everything will be an adventure and thats why its so great.
What does 'community' mean to you?
People you can count on. To ask stupid questions without feeling stupid. To be there when you have no one else to be physically there for you.
What keeps you living far from where you started?
This sense of adventure. The curiosity of what else is out there. How do others live? How do others communicate? How could I get by without the language but with nonverbal communication? I don't want to just read about it, I want to see it and experience it for myself.
How do you get involved in the local community you find yourself in?
Get yourself in an atmosphere you are comfortable in, even though you're somewhere so foreign. Like a cafe if you are a coffee drinker, a bar if you like to drink, a gym if you like to go to gyms. These give you opportunities to talk with others (both other expats like you or locals) that are doing things you like to do. I find putting myself out there and initiating conversations help me.
What does 'home' mean to you?
Home = family. So wherever my family is, is home.
How can you make a 'home' wherever you find yourself?
Having a community around me that feels like family.
Any thoughts on friendship and making friends as a Girl Gone International?
We need friends. Isn't it a great thing to look back at all your friends and see that they are scattered throughout the entire world. I absolutely love that.
Where do you hang out in the city?
Loveeee Bia Hois. Especially Ngoc Linh Bia Hoi. As well as this tiny little bar called Naboo.
What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?
Do it! Just do it and figure it out along the way. You will run into problems. Even if you plan. It is bound to happen. So just let it happen and roll with the punches. It will make you stronger and smarter.